Small town, big city theatre

Small Town Theatrics to stage Hairspray
Ann Gill

Ten years ago this month Jack Micetich produced and directed his first musical, and tomorrow the curtain goes up on show 25—10 of those as the founder of Small Town Theatrics.
At the age of 18, Micetich was encouraged to pursue his interest in the performing arts by starting a community theatre. Never one to shy away from a challenge he assembled a group of friends to perform in a relatively new musical titled, 13, The Musical.
It was from that performance in the Coal City Intermediate School gymnasium that Small Town Theatrics was formed with the goal of encouraging involvement in the performing arts.
In 10 seasons, the Coal City-based community theatre company has developed a cast list of over 190 performers who have been backed by a stage and tech crew of more than 30. These talented individuals come from 16 communities in six counties—Grundy, Will, Kankakee, Livingston, Kendall and Kane.
“Ten years ago I could have never dreamt that we would be producing shows with the amount of talent we’ve seen over time,” said Micetich.
Since starting the community theatre, he graduated from college, started his career in education and began directing at the middle and high school levels. His talents have earned his theatre program multiple nominations and awards in the annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards, including back-to-back nominations for Best Direction.
Micetich often wonders what his career path would have been had he not taken a chance by starting Small Town.
In celebration of the theatre company’s 10th anniversary season Micetich and his creative team took on two summer productions starting with its first semi-staged musical concert of Once On This Island and this weekend the curtain goes up on Hairspray.
When the lights dim and the curtain parts to a stage full of color, audiences will be transported to era when most of the country could only see in black and white.
Set in 1962, the musical tells the story of Tracy Turnbland, played by Jana Oates, an overweight high schooler with high hairdo and a dream of dancing on the local teenage dance show.
When a female dancer is forced to leave the show for nine months, Tracy sets out to take the spot with the encouragement of her father. Although initially turned away at the audition due to her size and willingness to integrate the show, Tracy lands a spot on The Corny Collins Show with a few moves she learns from a black dancer she befriends in detention.
The Tony Award winning musical touches on several themes from racial injustice to freedom of expression, individuality, acceptance and love.
Hairspray is a high-energy show with 1960s style dance music and rhythm and blues, it's a show the cast says will have audience members dancing in their seats and singing along to the catchy tunes.
Oates, of Peotone, is making her Small Town Theatrics debut. In the role as her best friend, Penny Pingleton, is Grace Preboy, of Minooka. Preboy first joined the theatre company in 2015 playing Jane Banks in Small Town's production of Mary Poppins. She returned to the company last summer for Newsies.
The talented cast includes dozens of area residents including Morris' Alex Duffy in the role of Edna Turnblad and Blake Niewinski as the polished dance show host Corny Collins.
Preston Johnson, of Coal City, takes the stage as Tracy's goofy but loving and encouraging father, Wilbur, and the show's teen heartthrob, Link Larkin, is a role played by Coal City resident Riley Nevin.
Angel Diaz, of Joliet, joins the cast as Seaweed J. Stubbs and in the role of his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, is Raeven Carroll, of Kankakee. Small Town alum, Shelbi Voss is taking on the role of Little Inez, who also has dreams of being a regular dancer on The Corny Collins Show.
Assuming the role of the show’s producer, Velma Von Tussle, who will do just about anything to keep Tracy away and the show from integrating, is Madison Schlegel who is back for her fourth show with Small Town. Coal City’s Emma Kenney will be taking the stage as Velma’s daughter, Amber.
In all the cast is comprised of 42 members with a crew of eight working behind the scenes.
“Every member of the cast and crew is vital to the success of the production, and we have some amazing talent taking the stage this weekend. Out of more than 100 people who auditioned, these are among the 42 best actors and actresses,” Micetich said.
Hairspray will be presented in the Coal City Performing Arts Center, 655 W. Division St., Coal City, with shows at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27 and afternoon shows on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28 beginning at 2 p.m. Advanced reserve seat tickets available at Remaining tickets will be sold at the door beginning one hour prior to each performance.
Micetich said it’s hard to believe the company is already celebrating its 10th season.
“None of this would be possible without the dedication of the cast and crew members who have taken the stage with us, and the support we’ve received from the community,” Micetich said.
Those involved in the productions and all who come to enjoy the big city theatre experience Micetich has created in his small town, would likely say none of it would be possible had he not accepted the challenge posed by his aunt, who took him to see a relatively new musical called 13.